Social Examination: Debriefing of Awkwardness in Public Transportation

I don’t like riding buses. I hate the smell of old buses. You know, the very old ones that smell like burnt diesel. And then the seats, God knows what’s the stain on the seat. What might look like an old chewed gum, could turn out to be something very different. So I don’t risk it, I just skip to the next seat in hopes it’s cleaner. But I’m not always fortunate, the new seat might just be dirtier than the past one. Between my decision-making and the mingle of dark colors of the seats, I muster courage and sit.

However, aside from the seat hygiene, I get a front row seat at people’s interesting demeanors. Yes, indeed, I do my daily examination of social behaviorism.

Depending on B-Line’s bus route, there will be very different characters. For example, bus eight is entirely Chico State students, but once in awhile a ragged stranger creeps into the student crowd. Route three on the other hand is a whole different story. It is almost the counterpart of route eight: a lot of wanderers and not a lot of students.

Going back to the topic of people’s demeanors, one of those characteristics is the “shyguy effect.” People suffering from this social enigma sit awkwardly looking only one direction. They seem like the don’t-talk-to-me-we-are-going-to-have-a-very-awkward-small-talk-conversation type of person. I have noticed this type overpopulates the bus. I have to admit that I have succumbed to its ways sometimes.

And then we have a character very popular these days, “the zombie.” Though, I am not talking about the students whose alarms didn’t go off and overslept, I’m talking about the smartphone zombies. I have also concluded that this characteristic is prone to exist while riding the bus due to the shyguy effect. People sit silently that in an attempt to appear popular and important, they start to play around with their phones. People with this characteristic may experience symptoms of sudden scrolling for the next song, or spontaneously smiling at a text or Facebook post. But between you and me, they are merely scrolling through their text history. How could I possibly know this, you ask? Well, the answer is simple, I too, have suffered from the shyguy effect.

I have also concluded these two characteristics can be applied to other awkward situations, like within a group of unknown people.

One thing I like to do when faced with this awkward situation, is to insert my hand into my pocket and take my smartphone out; no one wants to interrupt a zombie. Just kidding! The best action is to take a deep breath, bring the courageous power out of you, swallow your shyness, and simply start a conversation.